Nirvana Sutra

Appreciation of the "Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra"

"Nirvana Sutra" Continued (Z22)

 

The Brahmacarin said: "O Gautama! Is there any single bhiksu among those of the Buddhist Sangha who does away with all such defilements as desire, anger, and ignorance?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! There are not only one, two, three or five hundred, but innumerable bhiksus who do away with all such defilements and things of the "is", such as desire, anger, ignorance and all such defilements."

"O Gautama! If we exclude the bhiksus, is there any bhiksuni among those of the Buddhist Sangha who has done away with all such defilements and things of the "is", such as desire, anger, and ignorance?"

The Buddha said: "There are not only one, two, three, or five hundred such bhiksunis, but innumerable bhiksunis who have done away with all these defilements and things of the "is", such as greed, anger, and ignorance."

Vatsiputriya said: "O Gautama! Let us leave aside the cases of individual bhiksus or bhiksunis. Is there among those of the Buddhist Sangha any upasaka who has been true to sila and made effort, and has been pure in his deeds, has crossed over the waters of doubt, and having cut away the web of doubt, has attained the other shore?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! There is not just one, two, three or five hundred, but countless upasakas who have been true to sila, who have made effort, whose deeds have been pure, and who, having rent asunder the web of doubt, have destroyed the five bonds of defilement [i.e. greed (or desire), ill-will, ignorance, jealousy, and stinginess, which cause one to get reborn into the three unfortunate realms of hell, ghosts, and animals], attaining thereby the fruition of the anagamin, and who have gained the other shore beyond doubt, doing away with the web of doubt."

Vatsiputriya said: "Let us leave aside the cases of bhiksus, bhiksunis, and upasakas. Is there any upasika among those of the Buddhist Sangha who has been true to sila, who has made effort, who has been pure in her deeds, and who has reached the other shore of doubt, having cut away the web of doubt?"

The Buddha said: "Of such there is not only one, two, three or five hundred, but there are countless upasikas who have been true to sila, who have made effort, who have destroyed the five fetters of defilement, who have attained the fruition of the anagamin, and who are now on the yonder shore of doubt, having cut away the web of doubt."

Vatsiputriya said: "O Gautama! Let us now leave aside the case of bhiksus or bhiksunis who have eliminated all defilements, and the case of upasakas and upasikas who have observed sila, made effort, and whose deeds have been pure, and who have cut away the web of doubt. Is there any upasaka among those of the Buddhist Sangha who enjoys the pleasures of the five [sensual] desires and who has no doubt in his mind?"

"O good man! Of such there is not only one, two, three or five hundred. There are countless people who have destroyed the three bonds, attaining thereby the fruition of the srotapanna and growing less in desire, ill-will, and ignorance, and thus gaining the fruition of the sakrdagamin. It is the same with the upasaka and upasika."

"O World-Honoured One! I would like now to draw an analogy."

The Buddha said: "Well said, well said! Speak out what you desire to say."

"O World-Honoured One! The naga kings, Nanda and Upananda, both provide us with great rains. So does it obtain with the Tathagata's rain of Dharma. All-equally do you let the rain fall upon the upasakas and upasikas. O World-Honoured One! If any tirthikas were to come [here] and desire [to train under you], I wonder how many months you would keep them on probation?"

The Buddha said: "O good man! We test for four months. It is not necessarily to be of one kind [i.e. whatever the type of person who applies]."

"O World-Honoured One! If it is not of one kind, please admit me into the Order."

Then, the World-Honoured One said to Kaundinya: "See that this Vatsiputriya is admitted into the Order and that he receives sila."

At these words of the Buddha, Kaundinya stood up amidst the congregation and carried out the ritual of karman. Fifteen days later, the man attained the fruition of srotapanna. Having attained this fruition, he thought to himself: "If I am to practise the Way with Wisdom, I have now already gained it, and I shall indeed be able to see the Buddha."

Then, he went to where the Buddha was, prostrated himself on the ground, and having paid his homage, drew back and seated himself on one side. And he said to the Buddha: "O World-Honoured One! Whatever is to be attained by knowing, I have now attained. Please condescend again to expound [things] to me, so that I might gain the learninglessness knowledge."

The Buddha said: "O good man! Make effort and practise two things, namely:  1) samatha [calmness meditation] and  2) vipasyana [insight meditation]. O good man! If any bhiksu wishes to attain the fruition of the srotapanna, such a person should practise these two things. If anyone desires to attain the fruitions of the sakrdagamin, anagamin, and arhatship, such a person too should practise the same.